The origins of the "community band" has a long history in the Upper Valley dating back to the 1860s. The first band was the Norwich Militia Band, which began during the Civil War and was made up of cadets from the Norwich Military Academy. The band was formed to play at patriotic functions and parades. When the Academy moved to Northfield, Vt., the band moved with it. In the spirit of the Militia Band, a new band was formed in Norwich in June of 1914. The band was sponsored by the local YMCA. This hearty group of local male musicians kept the band going each summer, playing for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades, and offering a series of summer concerts on the Green. They also played for political rallies, but only for candidates of their choice. Members of the original 1914 band read like a who's who of Norwich, and included Fred Metcalf, Don Bridgman, Charles Huntley, Dean Merrill, and Dale and J.H. Nelson. With the advent of gas rationing in the 1940s the band ended its traveling ways and years of performance.
The band was reactivated in 1970 as the Hanover‒Norwich Community Band, under the direction of George Black. The band played bi-weekly concerts on the lawn of Dartmouth Hall and on alternating weeks, performed on the bandstand in Norwich.
The band limped through several years, but continued to march for the Norwich Fair and the Shrine Game parades. In 1980, Cindy Boehm, now the band's Assistant Director, led the band during the summer following her graduation from Mascoma High School. With the arrival of Eric Anderson as conductor in the early 80s, the band again flourished and played a full season of summer concerts in Norwich, plus a heavy parade schedule. Under the leadership of Dan Downes, beginning in 1984, the band's year expanded to include a winter schedule of rehearsals and concerts in the Lebanon Opera House. There are three members of the band who have been active since the 1970 reincarnation: Willy Black, Kit Griggs, and Elisa Rice. In 1990 the name of the band was changed from the Hanover‒Norwich Community Band to the Upper Valley Community Band to more accurately reflect the "home towns" of its members, and, because the local towns no longer provided any support.
UVCB's current Director, Carole I. Blake, and Assistant Director, Cynthia Boehm-Patenaude, have aided the ensemble in becoming an outstanding community band. The word "community" is self-explanatory: everyone in the community is invited to play. To participate in the band, one should be able to read music and have command of their instrument. The band's normal activities include parades, concerts, patriotic, and seasonal events throughout the year. Currently there are more than 75 active musicians in the UVCB.
In 1994, the band was honored with the opportunity to perform at the annual convention of the Association of Concert Bands in Burlington, Vt. In addition, the UVCB has performed at the Boston Festival of Bands (an invitation-only event), held each year the first Saturday in June. Sponsored by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, this event features bands from all over the northeast.
A noteworthy event in the UVCB's history was the musical/cultural exchange with the Town Band of Heimsheim, Germany (Musikverein Stadtkapelle Heimsheim). This joint venture titled Hands Across the Sea, took place in May of 1997. The Town Band of Heimsheim came to the Upper Valley and performed a joint concert with the UVCB at the Lebanon Opera House. In June of 1999 the UVCB, after a tour of southern Austria and southern Germany, went to Heimsheim and joined the MVSH in concert, proudly representing the Upper Valley.
In October of 2001, the band had the distinct pleasure of representing New Hampshire and Vermont in concert at the National Festival of the States, an official celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Traveling to Washington, D.C., the band presented three concerts at different venues in the city, and toured our nation's capital.
The band looks forward to seeing you during the summer and at our major concerts. The UVCB is proud to be a part of the musical heritage of the Upper Valley.
The Upper Valley Community Band is a 501(C)(3) organization
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Mail the UVCB 28 May 2010
UVCB Webmeister: John S. Erickson